Above: Gottheimer at today’s Problem Solvers Caucus press conference unveiling their “March to Common Ground” COVID-19 stimulus framework.
WASHINGTON – Today, Tuesday, September 15, 2020, Problem Solvers Caucus Co-Chair Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) delivered remarks during a press conference as the bipartisan Caucus — made up of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans — unveiled its “March To Common Ground” framework to help break the gridlock on the latest COVID-19 relief package and encourage negotiators to get back to the table.
The package addresses key areas of need, including COVID-19 testing, unemployment insurance, direct stimulus, worker and liability protection, small business and non-profit support, food security, schools and child care, housing, election support, and state and local aid.
The full framework can found HERE.
Gottheimer’s remarks at today’s press conference are below:
First and foremost — I am so incredibly proud of all the hard work from the members of the Problem Solvers Caucus that got us here today, to help us in our March to Common Ground. I’m especially grateful to our Coronavirus Relief Task Force, led by Dusty and Dean, along with Abigail and Anthony, and feedback from all our members.
What brings the 50 of us together — 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans strong — is our shared goal of finding a pragmatic solution — a bipartisan path forward — to help get negotiators back to the table. The March to Common Ground COVID relief package does just that — it lays out a common sense framework to help get American families and businesses through inauguration — and our state and local governments through till next year.
Starting in mid-March, my district in North Jersey was in the eye of the COVID storm — now more than 43,000 cases and, sadly, 3,660 deaths in our counties. Twenty-two percent of New Jersey independent restaurants are out of business. Sixteen percent unemployment. We are on the cusp of flu season and COVID continues its war-path across our country.
The fact is that, as we all hear back home, Americans simply can’t afford inaction. Our families and children can’t wait until February for the relief that can help put food on their tables, for more testing, to help for our schools, or to pay cops, firefighters, EMS, and teachers.
We cannot wait. We cannot play political games. The American people need the negotiators to get back at the table.
This is how we were able to break the gridlock and find common ground. First, we needed to shorten the timetable — hence, the March to Common Ground. Aside from state and local funding, everything else is just about getting us through the next inauguration. That helped us bring the overall number down.
Second, we also realized that the biggest sticking points were the top-line numbers, not the actual programs, priorities, and investments that mattered underneath.
Big numbers are Washington speak — not the real issues families talk about at home.
So, that’s what we focused on: things like testing capabilities, stimulus checks, state and local funding, ensuring unemployment, and other key issues that we know we had to come together around.
Finally, we recognized that we kept getting stuck on the fight to combat this virus and when things would be better. When would the economic and health crisis pass? So, we put in boosters and reducers — depending on where we are in March, in terms of progress toward a broadly distributed vaccine and the state of our hospitalizations.
So, the package starts at 1.53 trillion, but it boosts to 2 trillion dollars if we are still in the midst of a crisis, and it would reduce to 1.3 if we aren’t.
What we know right now is that families and small businesses in my district — and in all of our districts — have all told us the same thing: they want help getting through the COVID crisis, not the same old political games. They need help now getting through this crisis — not six months from now.
It’s time for real solutions — pragmatic, and common sense. It can be done, and we hope to work with the negotiators from all sides to help us all get there.
That’s what this bipartisan roadmap is all about. A March to Common Ground. Now, let’s get it done.
Thank you again and God bless.